First posted September 2005. Lydia ("Crayons") was four at the time.
Today I invented a new reading game for Crayons. On the computer, I made a page with twelve boxes (using a table) and in each box I typed a reading word, in big letters. About half of them were new words. I printed out two copies, and on one of the copies I cut the words out, in squares that were a little smaller than the boxes.
The first thing we did was some matching. I put the individual words on the floor beside the sheet with the boxes, and asked Crayons to match the words with the ones on the sheet. I asked her which words she knew for sure, and she took those off and read them. I went over the new words with her, showing her which ones rhymed with a word she knew, and which one was the same as an old word plus an "s" (mat, mats). Then I took all the words in my hand, and asked Crayons to "pick a card, any card." Each word she picked, she read and then put in its matching box.
At this point Crayons decided to make the game more fun by bringing in an old rag doll who's acted as "assistant reading coach" for all the Squirrelings. Becky (the doll) is known both for her constant sneezing and for her fear of bees (both the flying kind and the alphabet kind, and she often can't keep the two straight). So that added a little suspense, since we knew that at any moment the word "bee" was going to come up, and that guaranteed a screech from Becky.
And that was the lesson. We'll use the same pieces again a couple of times (we don't do reading lessons every day). Then I'll probably take the individual words, print out a matching set (or cut up the master sheet) and paste them to half-index cards, to add to our card game (see below).
By the way, if you're curious, the old words were bee, mom, wee, dad, mat, and go. The new words were hat (she sort of knew that one), fat, meet, feet, mats, and tee (we did not define what kind of tee that is, the object here is to learn to sound words out and learn some sight words, rather than worrying about exceptions.)